Night court returns online to help South Texas town during ‘trying times’ of pandemic

Border Report

The City of Laredo Municipal Court in South Texas will begin virtual night court proceedings starting Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, city officials announced. (Courtesy Photo)

HARLINGEN, Texas (Border Report) — Night court will soon be in session and online for residents of Laredo, Texas, who can’t tend to their cases during the day due to essential job responsibilities or their children’s distance-learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic, city official said Tuesday.

Laredo Municipal Court Judge Jesus “Chuy” Dominguez will hold online virtual night court from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month. The first session will start on Wednesday evening to provide residents a chance to resolve any court cases or business that might conflict with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, city officials announced.

“Now that virtual schooling has started, I see that many parents are very involved with their children’s education and that priority limits time and availability,” Dominguez said in a statement. “It was essential to extend Laredo Municipal Court hours to accommodate the community during these trying times.”

All night court cases will be held online as long as the threat of coronavirus exists, Dominguez said. The municipal court has jurisdiction over citations that are Class C misdemeanor issued by city officers — such as traffic tickets — collecting court fines, fees, and state court cost; as well as preparing arrest warrants and issuing subpoenas, according to the municipal court’s website. The court has been holding all day-court proceedings online since April.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz (Border Report File Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

The surrounding county of Webb has had 244 coronavirus deaths, making it the county with the 10th highest number of deaths due to the novel virus, Laredo officials said in a news conference Monday.

There have been 40 deaths in the past two weeks, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said Monday during a news conference. And while there was a slight decrease in the number of virus cases in Webb County and Laredo during the last week of August — down from 2.2% to 2.1% — Saenz warned residents not to let their guards down.

“We’re making great strides toward the betterment of our community, but I say this cautiously and I congratulate the steps that have been taken but we’re not out of the critical situation that we’ve been in for weeks. Things can easily, easily change for the worse,” Saenz said.

Saenz told Border Report that he appreciates the judge holding night court during this pandemic to encourage residents to continue to shelter at home and remain vigilant against the virus.

“I appreciate Judge Jesus ‘Chuy’ Dominguez’ sensitivity and forsight in providing for the night court and accommodating our busy schedules. Work and family life are filled with so many activities and the more time flexibility a person has, the better for everyone,” Saenz said.

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